Primate Behaviour and Ecology - SE580

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR NE Newton-Fisher


Prerequisite: SE302 or equivalent





This module introduces students to the discipline of behavioural ecology, with particular reference to non-human primates. The module looks at the patterns and principles that can be generalised from the variation in behaviour and ecology across primate species. Set within an evolutionary behavioural-ecological framework, this module combines established findings with the latest research. It emphasises the importance of direct observations of primate behaviour and the use of theoretical models with which to make sense of these data. The module covers social and reproductive behaviour within primate groups, the nature and evolution of primate societies, and cognition and communication, as well as interactions between primates and their environments: primates as foragers, predators and prey. The module will make particular use of multi-media technology to allow students to see and hear primates in their natural habitats.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

21 Lectures; 3 Seminars

24 hours


This module contributes:
BSc Biological Anthropology; also BSc Wildlife Conservation, BSc Anthropology

Method of assessment

This module will be assessed by 70% exam and 30% coursework (1000 word assignment (20%); practical class participation (10%)).

Preliminary reading

• Fleagle (2013) Primate Adaptations and Evolution, 3rd Edition, Academic Press, San Diego.
• Krebs, Davies & West (2012) Introduction to Behavioural Ecology 4th Edition, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.
• Campbell et al. (2010) Primates in Perspective. 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford
• Strier (2011) Primate Behavioral Ecology. 4th Edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ
• Dolhinow & Fuentes (1999) The Nonhuman Primates. Mayfield, London.
• Richard (1985) Primates in Nature. W.H.Freeman, London.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module, students will:
1. Have a good knowledge of evolutionary theory as it applies to primate behaviour.
2. Understand the ways primates interact with one another and their environments.
3. Have a detailed understanding of the patterns and principles that account for the variation in ecology and behaviour of primates.
4. Be able to provide examples from a wide range of species to illustrate these patterns.

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